Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass who wins the latest cycle of “American Idol.” But I am wincing at the prospect of the new volley of “culture war” arguments that the outcome is sure to unleash.

The faceoff between Adam Lambert and Kris Allen will inevitably yield the red state-blue state/”will America vote for a [in this case (presumably) gay guy]?” debate that circled the 2008 presidential election, thanks in part to Lambert’s theatrical style and photos of him that surfaced on the Internet. Headlines like “Could Adam Lambert Be First Gay American Idol? have already conflated a Fox reality karaoke competition into a social referendum to rival Barack Obama becoming the first African-American president.

Pundits and print outlets desperate to latch onto the coattails of the show’s success will spend untold hours seeking to parse the larger significance of the voting results. For awhile, anyway, any talk about the franchise cooling or its ratings decline this season will be lost amid the “What does this all mean?” blather.

The whole ritual is as predictable as it is pointless, but hey, anything that can connect TV’s most-watched program to politics is a big win for cable news and consumer newspapers, who would like very much to ignore the fact that their average viewer/reader is more likely to be retired than fall within the coveted adults 18-49 demographic. Think I’m kidding? Let’s not forget, the median age of Fox News Channel viewers is 65, and CNN and MSNBC’s profiles are only slightly younger.

“The future’s all yours,” Simon Cowell told both contestants on Wednesday.

The present, unfortunately, is all ours. Please wake me when it’s over.